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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert
Hi all,

It is obvious that one of the main driving forces behind the move to cloud is a need for improved HR service delivery. Everything needs to be(come) self-service.

But for many organizations the workflow concepts in their HR applications are not fulfilling their needs for efficiency. This is not new. Since David Ulrich introduced the shared service model 20 years ago, organizations and BPO providers bring in additional ‘tiers’ via shared service centers.

However, in many recent customer conversations I found that, next to organizational efficiency, organizations are now in parallel exploring new ways to improve their employee engagement. They are looking to offer similar HR experiences compared to what people are used to in their personal lives. This means that information needs to be present immediately, and it needs to be personalized to the individual. And when employees do have questions there needs to be ‘multi-channel service’ to make their experience as pleasant (or less painful) as possible. Employees expect to be served via Web applications, chat, phone, e-mail, etc.

That combination of improved service delivery and multi-channel consumer experience is exactly what we offer via the Employee Central Service Center (EC SC). In this post I will describe what it is, how it looks, how it is implemented, and what other customers are experiencing.

What is Employee Central Service Center? 

Let me start by describing what EC SC is. EC SC targets two groups: the employees who need to work with HR, and the HR service center agents who are helping the employees.

Employee experience

For employees EC SC provides an easy manner to reach out to HR. On every page within SuccessFactors employees can click on ‘Ask HR’, and they receive immediate help. Based on where the employee is in the SuccessFactors application it will know what the question might be. EC SC also knows other characteristics like the location that employee works in. Based on that combination of information the knowledge base will provide information, such as HR policies. And then specific to the employee based on their specific country. Very useful when looking for local maternity policies or housing arrangements   ! If the employee did not find a resolution based on the information provided they can immediately open a ticket.

HR service center agent experience

For HR service agents EC SC provides a full help desk support function with all the bells and whistles to get ticket resolved as fast as possible. This includes ticket routing based on expertise of the agents, SLA definitions, the ability for agents to look into contextualized policy information, to check if similar tickets have been opened and answered, to leverage templates to standardize response and to utilize checklists to ensure task completion. These checklists are particularly useful in cases like external relocation when multiple actions (e.g. housing, insurance, visas) run in parallel.

For the shared service manager there is full support to understand and improve the quality of service based on resolution times, escalations, and SLA based alerts and notifications.

I hear you thinking: enough with the descriptions, I want to see software!? So let’s get to it.

How does it work? 

Every employee that logs on has the link to the Ask HR page. In the following screenshot it is marked in red and accessible on the landing page:

Regardless of where the employee is within SuccessFactors this link is present.

In the following example you see that Geoff is in the Time Off section of Employee Central.

Geoff has a question about his accruals so he clicks on Ask HR. EC SC knows that Geoff is located in the US and that he accesses Ask HR via the Time Off section. Based on that context the local Time Off and maternity leave policy information is returned:

Based on this info unfortunately Geoff’s question is not answered. He creates a ticket via the button ‘Create Ticket’ bottom right in the screen.

As you can see there is little information Geoff needs to fill out. The application knows who Geoff is, so there is no need to fill that out again.

He does need to fill out two essential drop down fields: What does the ticket relate to and What is the nature of the request? The selection which is made determines how the ticket is routed, so that the best qualified shared service agent can answer it.

In addition to the information in the screen above also things like ticket priority and attachments can be added to the ticket. The screenshots above are now all from the online application, but of course this can also be done via mobile devices. In that case the screens look similar but responsive to the size of the mobile device screen. See the 3 examples below: 

When the ticket is created the employee of course has full overview of ticket status via the ticket overview page:

The employee also has the ability to directly reach out to HR via the ‘Contact HR’ section. On this page you see phone lines to the shared service center and the central shared service e-mail address.

When an employee sends an e-mail with the HR issue, this will also be automatically converted into a ticket. I will come back to that later in this post.

As you can see employees have multiple channels to reach out to HR to get their questions answered as soon as possible.

Ticket handling 

Now let’s look at how agents can resolve an incoming ticket. The ticket that was just created by Geoff ends up in the ticket backlog for Neil, who is the HR shared service agent who specializes in time off queries.

When Neil opens the ticket (PTO Accrual incorrect) the ticket shows all information and context relevant to resolving this. See the following screenshot:

In the header it shows the context and the priority. On the left side it shows Geoff’s information and bottom left it provides the option to immediately reply via the ticket. On the right side of the screen you see a Solution Finder and Similar Ticket functionality. This is really helpful for Neil to get the ticket resolved asap. Neil searches for similar tickets:

And immediately Neil finds similar tickets based on key word searches. Neil has the possibility to look into these tickets to see who resolved them and what the resolution was. This provides Neil with an idea how to resolve the current issue. To explore further Neil clicks on Geoff Hill’s name and this opens up all Geoff’s tickets:

It also provides the option to dive right into Geoff’s profile in SuccessFactors to analyze further and make corrections:

When scrolling down Neil finds the time management section on Geoff's people profile:

Based on the information gathered and Neil can directly make the adjustment and write a reply:

Afterwards he can close the ticket:

Quick and easy.

Multi-Channel via Phone

That was a resolution for a ticket which came in via Ask HR. As discussed it is also possible to reach out by phone. In that case the shared serve agent needs to create the ticket. See the following screenshot:

On the right side of the screen you see the ability to create the ticket. This opens up a New Ticket screen to correctly route the ticket and provide details around the issue at hand.

In this case the ticket communication will probably not go via the Ask HR functionality because the employee chose not to use this for ticket creation. Therefore, ticket communication via e-mail might be more relevant. See below:

Directly form the ticket the e-mail can be composed:

The big benefit is that all communication is stored within this ticket. Particularly useful for later analysis about how the ticket was addressed and resolved.

Multi-channel via central e-mail

When tickets come in via e-mail to the central shared service center mail address agents can directly covert this e-mail into a ticket. And just like with tickets created via phone contact, they can enrich tickets from e-mail with information relevant to this ticket.

Responses to the e-mail occur directly from Employee Central Service Center. See the reply functionality in the following screenshot:

Reporting and Analytics For shared service managers there are full means to stay on top of their processes with the built in analytical possibilities and predefined reports which come with Employee Central Service Center. The following example shows embedded capabilities to visualize ticket backlogs:

And there are also means to create dashboards with KPIs based on the SLA’s which are defined in the setup of the application:

Is this all built in SuccessFactors?

To offer the consumer grade employee experience and the powerful ticket processing we bundled a few components. Obviously, the HR application is SuccessFactors which provides the access via the ‘Ask HR’ link. This opens up the screen where employees find the policy information and where they can create and track their tickets. This screen is built on SAP Cloud Platform. The policy information is stored in a knowledge base, such as SAP JAM, or any other. For the ticket handling we leverage SAP Hybris Cloud for Service. This meant for us that we did not need to reinvent the wheel. Shared service processes for HR are very similar to IT, Finance or Sales. Therefore, we leverage the same ticketing platform, but now dedicated for HR.

In conclusion: we bundled the components in SAP Cloud Platform, the SAP Hybris Cloud for Service, and the integrations and offer it as one application: Employee Central Service Center. This allows you to support all HR processes in SuccessFactors, and potentially in other applications, with one dedicated shared service technology.


How is it implemented? 

As you saw in the screenshots, one of the biggest benefits is that it is fully integrated with SuccessFactors. That means for the employee that their look and feel and navigation is all seamless. And for agents this means that employee information is directly inserted in tickets and that they have direct access to the employee information in SuccessFactors. That requires a high level of integration, which we provide via predefined content  .

The following 6 steps are crucial to enable this solution architecture:

  1. The integration between SuccessFactors and SAP Cloud Platform

  2. Configuring shared service organization in Employee Central Service Center.

  3. Replicating the data between Employee Central to SAP Hybris Cloud for Customer

  4. Configuring and enabling the ‘Ask HR’ functionality on the SAP Cloud Platform and in SuccessFactors

The 2nd step is the key element to shape your HR service center. There are a few key criteria which need to be setup:

You need to define who your service team organization is, what the ticket routing rules are (e.g. payroll questions only get routed to the few specialists which you have), what the SLA definition is, what types of services   you are supporting, who is entitled to see what information, and what channels you offer for service delivery.

And equally important for the shared service optimization are to define the reports you need, what SLA related KPIs there are, auto escalation paths for ticket resolution, dashboards, knowledge base integrations, etc. EC SC offers you the full package.

You can find the implementation guides all at Go to ‘Employee Central’ and check the Implementation section. There is also an end-user guide available.

Customer references 

Hear firsthand from one of our customers Hovis or check this detailed customer presentation given by Neeyamo at ASUG 

What are the benefits?

The real benefits for using Employee Central Service Center are:

  • Employees can get answers to questions very fast via contextualized information, or reach out to HR via multi-channel support.

  • HR Shared service centers have full support to resolve tickets as soon as possible. Part of this is the direct integration with SuccessFactors which allows agents to not only communicate the change but also help the employee by making the change. In addition, HR service delivery can be optimized based on the process insight generated in the application.

In a nutshell: EC SC delivers your HR service delivery in consumer style experience which will positively impact how employees perceive HR and working for your organization as a whole. And at the same time EC SC allows you to improve service delivery based on increased insight.  Everybody benefits.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to reach out!

Kind regards,

Frans Smolders